Your resume is a potential employer’s first impression of you. But did you know that hiring managers spend an average of six seconds looking at it? That means you have a very limited amount of time to showcase the experience and knowledge you can offer their business. Follow our tips on how to write a resume to ensure each part of your CV is professional and effective when you’re applying for your next dream job.
1. Keep the layout clean
Your CV might be one out of hundreds that will cross a hiring manager’s desk for an available role. While there’s no winning resume template, keep your formatting neat and easy to read to make yours stand out.
Include headers between different sections, like ‘Work Experience’ or ‘Education’, so a viewer can quickly jump to a particular part. Use bullet points to break up large amounts of text and make your CV easily scannable. And stick to a single, professional font like Arial or Calibri (skip the Comic Sans).
2. Don’t forget your contact details
It might seem obvious, but many people fail to include a way to be contacted. Your full name, current residential address, contact phone number, email address and link to your LinkedIn profile should be at the top of your CV. Be sure you’re using a personal email address that’s appropriate to share with potential employers (is firstname.lastname@example.org really the first impression you want to give?).
3. Add relevant career objectives
When it comes to how to write your CV, this is one of the most important sections. It enables an employer to understand your background, experience and motivations for the role. It’s also where you can explain any inconsistencies in your resume, like if you’ve taken a career break or changed industries. It’s important to summarise the experiences and qualifications are relevant to the role in this short paragraph, so avoid personal attributes or hobbies.
Here’s a good example of a career objective:
I’m a qualified structural engineer with more than four years of experience in the structural design and analysis of commercial, residential, industrial and institutional buildings. Additionally, I’m experienced in conducting site inspections and liaising with clients, architects and builders. I’m seeking a new role where I can continue developing my structural engineering career.
4. Mention achievements in your employment experience
This is the section your potential employer will spend the most time reading. It should offer an insight into how your previous professional experiences make you a suitable candidate, and include programs and keywords relevant to your industry.
Structure it in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role. For each job, list the company, your position, the period of employment and what you did while there – not only your responsibilities, but how you made your mark. Are there any stand-out achievements you can showcase, or tangible benefits your skills provided the business? For instance, “During my time with ABC Company, I was able to increase sales by 15 percent in just four months”.
5. Summarise your educational background & professional memberships
Keep this section short and sweet. Summarise your most recent qualifications, and work in reverse chronological order back to high school. Highlight specific achievements with bullet points and any relevant extracurricular activities. If you’re a member of any professional groups relevant to your industry, include them here.
6. Get the right referees
Providing the right referees is crucial. Include at least two work-related referees, preferably from different companies. Ideally, these referees will have worked with you in a role more senior than your own. While not essential to list their full details on your CV, it does speed up the process and instil confidence in the reader.
Don’t forget to speak with your referees in advance and get their permission to list them as a reference.
7. Include any portfolios
If you work in a field where samples of your work are recommended, send your portfolio through along with your resume.